MASERU — Daggers are out for Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Metsing Lekhanya.
Some BNP supporters want him out.
A motion of “no confidence” against the former military ruler received a majority vote at last week’s conference but fell short of the 75 percent threshold required to remove him.
Elections were postponed and the conference had to be adjourned due “to lack of time”.
But those that want Lekhanya out say when the conference resumes within the next 30 days they will certainly boot him out.
Last week our Political Reporter, BONGIWE ZIHLANGU, spoke to Lekhanya about his battle to remain leader of Lesotho’s first ruling party.
Below are excerpts from the interview:
Zihlangu: How do you plan to fight the pressure to remove you as leader of the BNP?
Lekhanya: It will all depend on whether or not they fight constitutionally. But for my part I intend to prepare myself intensively by going to villages, branches and constituencies to canvass for support. The vote should be from the national party supporters and no one else.
Zihlangu: Does that include a plan to ask the BNP’s accreditation committee to relook at the delegates that you claimed had been illegally allowed into the conference to ambush you during the vote?
Lekhanya: Definitely! We should make sure that all delegates taking part at the conference are legitimate and have accreditation from their constituency committees. We cannot have people we do not know just barging into the elective conference.
Zihlangu: But why don’t you want to relinquish the BNP leadership after having already served 10 years? Is it not right for you to give a chance to other people?
Lekhanya: It is not that I don’t want to go. I do want to go but not before I have restored the BNP to its position on the Lesotho political landscape. And not before I have put the party’s structure back in place. I am left with only two to three years before my time as the BNP leader lapses. I don’t aspire to see it through but I also don’t want to leave the party in a mess.
Zihlangu: But it would seem that the time for new blood is now.
Lekhanya: I am not in the least opposed to new blood taking over. But when that happens it should not only because people want change, but also because they want to see the BNP progress. Parties need supervision and it is sad that some people are eager to put just anybody in my place. People are just thirsty for positions and do not really care about the value and responsibility attached to them.
Zihlangu: What value do you think you have added to the BNP?
Lekhanya: Among other things worth a mention, I have worked hard to see to it that we sustain the values which are a force behind the party. I have pushed for the renewal of the party’s constitution (because) many were complaining that it was archaic. I am also just a step away from reinstating the ownership of the BNP Centre to the BNP to who it rightfully belongs.
Zihlangu: There have been allegations that the executive committee deliberately delayed the conference to avoid elections. Did you really want the elections to go ahead?
Lekhanya: Yes, indeed, I wanted the elections to take place. I kept asking throughout why people were delaying when time was not on our side. I suppose things turned out the way they did because the people there did not have the know-how of running a conference. The very same individuals who are today accusing me of using delaying tactics should have been orderly and disciplined to ensure a smooth process of elections. But they did not and are now blaming their failure on me.
Zihlangu: Do you feel that you are being wrongly targeted by a faction that is accusing you of presiding over the demise of the BNP?
Lekhanya: I am being wrongly targeted for all that they have also failed to achieve. They are good-for-nothing losers who have even failed to successfully run their own families. They have been languishing in self-pity, sitting down and doing nothing when they should be channelling their energies towards productive matters. Nobody has ever denied them membership forms and the renewal of their membership cards. They have just deliberately refused to follow the correct procedure, like getting authorisation and accreditation from their constituency committee chairpersons.
Zihlangu: Why have so many people left the BNP?
Lekhanya: The one and only reason why people left the BNP in droves was simply due to the fact that they had hoped the All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane, would manage to cripple the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and remove Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili. However, Thabane failed to achieve that. Let me tell you that there are a number of former BNP members who have left the ABC and rejoined the BNP because they are optimistic that this party can easily be revived. Then again, others left solely because they were so thirsty for power and claimed they could lead this party better.
Zihlangu: What are your plans to revive the party if you make it beyond the conference?
Lekhanya: I am going to revive the structures of the party, recall some of our lost people and recruit new members. I am also seriously considering a succession structure which will allow for a smooth transition. I also have to work to kill the tendency of people using skeletons in conferences. They just spoil the conference and cause it to lose credibility. I also intend to keep runners active in the constituencies in order to keep the BNP spirit alive.
Zihlangu: How true is the speculation that both the party’s secretary-general and treasurer have turned against you?
Lekhanya: Anything can happen. But to my knowledge relations between us are going smoothly. I think this is just propaganda by people who intend to sow confusion. The support I enjoy is immense and intact. And I intend to keep it that way as much as I can and for as long as is possible. Of course we will differ on certain issues from time to time. But differences of opinion are healthy as they keep people on their toes. It does not mean that we are divided or that we hate each other. It is all about valuing the people you work with and giving them the freedom to express their views. When you share things with people, they appreciate you more.